Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. About half of infected people do not have any symptoms. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine, pale stools, joint pain and pain in the stomach area.
It is spread through contact with the blood and body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid and saliva) of an infected person such as sexual contact, sharing needles and other drug equipment, sharing razors or toothbrushes. It can also be passed on from an infected mother to a newborn infant at the time of birth. Hepatitis B can be prevented by a vaccine. For more information on the vaccine, see the health unit’s fact sheet on hepatitis B vaccine. For more detailed information about the disease, see the health unit’s fact sheet on hepatitis B.
Ninety percent of infected adults will clear the virus on their own (acute infection) and develop lifelong protection against it. The remaining 10% of infected adults are unable to clear the virus and become chronic carriers, who are chronically infected and infectious. Chronic hepatitis B infection is treatable.
The following graph shows the number of acute hepatitis B cases in Simcoe Muskoka between 2000 and 2015. There have been between zero and five cases of acute hepatitis B in Simcoe Muskoka every year since 2000. In 2015, three cases of hepatitis B were reported in Simcoe Muskoka.
The following graph shows the incidence rate of acute hepatitis B cases in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario between 2000 and 2015. The Ontario data from 2000-2004 are not available. Both rates have remained low and relatively stable during this time period. In 2015, the Simcoe Muskoka rate was 0.36 cases per 100,000 population and the Ontario rate was 0.69 cases per 100,000 population.
More detailed data for Ontario and each health unit can be found on Public Health Ontario’s interactive Snapshots tool, by clicking on “Select Indicator”.
There are many factors that influence how many cases are reported to the health unit, as explained on the Infectious Diseases page.
Similar to other chronic infectious diseases such as HIV, the number of people who can spread hepatitis B is not just the number of new cases (incidence) every year; it is also the number of existing chronic carriers (prevalence) from previous years. The provincial reportable disease database (iPHIS) counts incidence and not prevalence so the graphs below only show the number of new cases every year and not existing cases. Therefore, the number of people infected with hepatitis B in Simcoe Muskoka (who can spread the disease) is higher than the numbers shown in the above graphs.